If you’ve purchased a home that needs a little work, one of the first things you might want to tackle is removing outdated wallpaper. The good news is that it can be done easily with our tips.
Before You Begin
- The level of difficulty depends on the condition of the walls prior to installation, plus the type and age of the wallpaper.
- The most difficult scenario is when wallpaper was adhered directly to drywall during installation. Primed or painted walls ensure the easiest removal.
Tip: Peel a small piece of wallpaper starting at a seam. If it comes off smoothly, the walls were probably primed. If there’s a layer of wall material on the back of the peeled piece, it was most likely adhered directly to the drywall.
- If you find that your existing wallpaper was originally adhered to drywall, consider applying updated, stylish wallpaper over the existing wallpaper to avoid damaging the walls.
Tip: You may have heard not to add wallpaper where it already exists, but most professionals will tell you it’s okay if the walls are in good shape and the seams will match.
How to Remove Wallpaper
Drop cloth or tarp
Wallpaper removal solution
Metal or plastic putty knives in various sizes
Wallpaper scoring tool
- Protect floors and surrounding areas with a drop cloth or tarp, and if you are removing wallpaper in a bathroom or kitchen, cover the drains.
- Mix wallpaper removal solution in the spray bottle according to the package instructions.
- Saturate an area of wallpaper by spraying a medium-sized section of the wall (approximately 2×2’) with the prepared solution. You may need to spray multiple coats to make the wallpaper very wet.
- Scrape off the saturated section of wallpaper with a large putty knife (use a smaller putty knife around small sections). If wallpaper was adhered directly to drywall, take extra care when scraping to avoid removing wall layers.
Tip: If the wallpaper cannot easily be removed once saturated with removal solution, cut it with a scoring tool before spraying the rest, but don’t press too hard to avoid damaging the walls.
- Once a majority of wallpaper is removed, you may need to use a steamer to help remove remaining stubborn pieces. Use extra precaution when using a steamer so you don’t burn yourself.
Tip: Once wallpaper is removed, patch damaged sections of wall, then clean the walls with a wet sponge. Let walls dry completely before painting.